Remember how “Ill-Mannered Children with Complacent Parents” was the Champion Pet Peeve of Etiquetteer’s Spring Madness of Pet Peeves? Remember that whole “Children must be seen and not heard” thing? It is time for parents to start leading us back there. Since most aren’t, other impacted people are, and not always with Perfect Propriety.
Etiquetteer sometimes has to specify that No One Cares About Your Loud Child. You, as a parent of a Loud Child, have an obligation to Maintain the Peace by keeping that child quiet. Yes, Etiquetteer recognizes that often that’s easier said than done. Too many parents don’t even make an attempt now, which is what leads to today’s news story.
Darla Neugebauer, the owner of Marcy’s Diner in Portland, Maine, yelled at a crying toddler in her diner to get her to be quiet, this after the crying had gone on for no little time. Buzzfeed has posted a more thorough account of the story. [NB: There’s an awful lot of profanity being slung around by Ms. Neugebauer and others, which doesn’t help. People ought to have their mouths washed out with soap.] Some people have a problem with this, starting with the toddler’s mother, Tara Carson. Etiquetteer has a problem with Ms. Carson and her husband for not having taken the toddler outside for Quiet Time much earlier. It appears that she didn’t consider, or care, about the impact all that caterwauling was having on anyone else in the room. To repeat, No One Cares About Your Loud Child. Etiquetteer is not making this up, you know.
But Etiquetteer, who knows from Bitter Personal Experience not to discipline the children of others, could only wish that Ms. Neugebauer had directed her ire at Ms. Carson and her husband more effectively, not the child. Here, she overstepped, and she is feeling the fury of the Internet as a result. No matter how provoked, no matter how justified one might feel, screaming at a child will more often than not make one appear in the wrong.
But no one comes out of this well, least of all the Carson family, and Etiquetteer sympathizes most of all with the other diners, who first had to endure the Loud Child, and then the altercation. The parents should have been more attentive to their child and more sensitive to its impact on others. Ms. Neugebauer should have taken a stand earlier, before losing her temper, and suggested to the parents that they take Loud Child outside until their order was ready. (Although according to accounts in the Buzzfeed post, she did.)
It seems that many people are insistently saying that they’ll never patronize Marcy’s Diner because of this, but Etiquetteer is not one of them. While Etiquetteer would have preferred to see this situation handled differently, it seems highly unlikely that any meal there in the future will be interrupted by a Loud Child.